Primary Pulmonary Hypertension

Law Topics >  Cause of Injuries > Primary Pulmonary Hypertension

The legal definition of primary pulmonary hypertension (also known as PPH, idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary hypertension) is a rare condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is abnormally high. The condition is often fatal and is primarily found in female patients aged 20-40 years old. The cause of primary pulmonary hypertension is unknown. It is considered a progressive disease, often leading to congestive heart failure, respiratory failure, and eventually death.

Primary pulmonary hypertension symptoms include, but are not limited to, shortness of breath upon exertion, chest pain, fainting or loss of consciousness. In order to control the disease, doctors often prescribe blood thinners, or anticoagulants, and calcium antagonists, which dilate the blood vessels in the lungs and improve blood flow. These medications will not cure primary pulmonary hypertension, but they may prolong life for some patients. For eligible patients, lung and heart transplants are an option.

Recently, reports have linked primary pulmonary hypertension with the weight loss drugs Pondimin (fenfluramine), part of the diet drug combination Fen-Phen, and Redux (Dexfenfluramine).

In April 2004, a jury awarded $1 billion to the family of a woman who allegedly died of primary pulmonary hypertension after taking Pondimin. In May 2004, a Texas judge upheld the substantial verdict against pharmaceutical maker Wyeth. According to reports, Wyeth is a defendant in over 300 lawsuits involving PPH.